SPORTS DAY: Fit-again Markram gets set to go

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SPORTS DAY: Fit-again Markram gets set to go

Your roundup of the sporting news of the day

Sunday Times sports editor


CRICKET
Markram passed fit to face Pakistan at the Bullring
Proteas opener Aiden Markram has been passed fit to face Pakistan in the third and final Test at the Wanderers but we will have to wait until before the toss on Friday morning to find out if uncapped Cobras batsman Zubayr Hamza will make his debut. Markram hurt his thigh while fielding in the second Test in Cape Town but he has won the race to take his place at the top of the batting order with stand-in captain Dean Elgar as the Proteas look to register a 3-0 whitewash over Pakistan. Duminy and Ngidi to miss ODI series Batsman JP Duminy and fast bowler Lungi Ngidi have not recovered from injuries in time to be considered for selection to the Proteas ODI squad to take on Pakistan in a five-match series starting next week in Port Elizabeth. Selectors have called up 29-year old Lions batsman Rassie van der Dussen as the new cap and also recalled Cobras fast bowler fast bowler Dane Paterson and premier batsman Hashim Amla in the 14-man squad to be revised for the remaining three matches. Van der Dussen played two T20s for SA against Zimbabwe last year and he is likely to earn his first ODI cap during the series against Pakistan. Paterson has not played for the Proteas in this format since his debut against Bangladesh in 2017 while Amla missed the recent series in Australia last year through injury.
BOXING
Pacquiao taking it one fight at a time
Manny Pacquiao, the Filipino multiple world champion who turned 40 last month, said that while he is focused on his title defense against Adrien Broner, he has considered life beyond the ring. The WBA welterweight champion knows he will have his hands full when he battles the hard-hitting Broner in Las Vegas on Jan. 19 and is not lining up fighters down the road. “At the age of 40, it’s hard to think about future fights. Just one at a time.”
SOCCER
Bidvest Wits in signing blitz
Bidvest Wits have signed Phathutshedzo Nange from Black Leopards to register a fourth signing in the opening 10 days of the transfer window. The 27-year-old has made a strong impression with his driving midfield play in his debut season and joins the leaders on a two-year deal. He has made 11 starts for Leopards‚ scoring twice. Wits defender Reeve Frosler‚ meanwhile‚ has signed a pre-contract with Kaizer Chefs for next season when his contract runs out.
What Didier Drogba told Thembi Kgatlana in Dakar
Thembi Kgatlana got a message from Ivory Coast and Chelsea striking legend Didier Drogba to “keep on going” when he presented the Banyana Banyana star with the Goal of the Year prize at the Caf Awards. Kgatlana, 22‚ who also won 2018 Women’s Player the Year‚ arrived back to a small but enthusiastic reception at OR Tambo International Airport on Thursday. “I think that’s the best I could ever think or want to achieve. I never thought one day Drogba would give me the award for the best goal‚” Kgatlana said. “And because he was the best goalpoacher it also gives me confidence going into the friendly games [for Banyana against Sweden and Netherlands in Cape Town in the coming week] knowing that Didier Drogba gave me a message‚ telling me to ‘keep on going’.”
Dortmund eye Hazard, Balerdi following Pulisic sale
Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund are reportedly looking to invest the £58m made from selling US international Christian Pulisic to Chelsea on both Belgium winger Thorgan Hazard and Argentine defender Leonardo Balerdi. Chelsea signed the 20-year-old Pulisic – regarded as one of the hottest properties in European football – on a five-and-a-half year contract for next season and he will join the Blues in the summer. Hazard, younger brother of Chelsea attacker Eden, is on Dortmund’s radar as German media widely reports that the 25-year-old has so far rejected an extension to his current Borussia Moenchengladbach contract, which expires in 2020.
Figo, Kaka seek promise of football in Pakistan
Portuguese great Luis Figo and Brazilian star Kaka have vowed to help develop the “great promise” of football in Pakistan, a country obsessed with cricket and twice banned from international soccer. The two Real Madrid legends are in Pakistan for a day-long visit as part of the World Soccer Stars tour, aimed at grooming nascent talent through exhibition matches and coaching clinics.
TENNIS
Harris close to qualifying for Australian Open
SA’s No 2 men’s singles player Lloyd Harris is one step away from entering the main draw of the Australian Open after coming through his second qualifying match on Thursday. Harris‚ the world no 119‚ beat Germany’s Dominik Koepfer 7-5 6-3 to set up a meeting with mercurial German Dustin Brown for a place in the 128-man main draw. Fifth seed Kevin Anderson has no such concerns. SA’s No 1 player will face France’s Adrian Mannarino in the first round. Left-hander Mannarino is ranked 41st in the world and will be no walkover for the hard serving Anderson.
Police dismantle tennis matchfixing gang in Spain
Spanish police have dismantled a gang that allegedly fixed professional tennis competitions, detaining 15 people and probing 68 others including tennis players, one of whom played in the last US Open. Tthe Civil Guard police force said the organisation bribed tennis players to fix matches in ITF Futures and Challenger tournaments, the lower levels of professional tennis where young players start out before getting to the ATP level. It did not identify those detained or being probed.
- TimesLIVE, AFP, Reuters

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